Monday, 31 January 2011

Insect eyes and vision

I've just added a huge chunk to this section as well as this diagram of a couple of omatidia of a compound eye. I am always getting eye questions, so perhaps this will provide some answers.

I'd much rather be out in my garden which is looking forlorn and neglected, but it is still below zero, and it is such a miserable cloudy day, that I tell myself that I'm better off in front of the log fire. Even though it is below zero the witch hazel is blooming. Its tiny yellow petals really do brighten up the grey day.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Bombus pascuorum males

This is a Bombus pascuorum male foraging on scabious. It is fairly easy to see he is a male if you look at his rear leg you can see it is narrower and has no pollen basket.

Below you can see the head of the same bumblebee. This shows another way of recognising males. Just below the antennae they have a very prominent tuft of hair. In pascuorum it is the same ginger colour as the rest of the body. In many other species it is yellow.

Bombus hortorum on scabious

This was taken at the end of last August at the side of a path along the edge of Torphins wood. This small patch of wildflowers always had nectar feeding insects on it. At the other side of the path was a clump of nettles that was a favourite with the woodland butterflies and moths. And just on the border of the wood was a tumbled down dry stone wall with some stones in the sun and some in the boggy shade. So in this very small area - smaller than even a small suburban garden there was such a wide variety of habitats. Admittedly it looks pretty bare uninteresting most of the year, but from mid to late summer it is abuzz with activity.

This is a perfect example of what to do if you have a garden large enough for you to leave a small patch to go wild.

There is no management that I can see. The path is well used by dog walkers, and the surroundings are grazed by rabbits and deer, and small patches are disturbed by the red squirrels burying nuts. Early in the spring the lizards use to stones to warm up on, they probably use them at other times, but I have only managed to see them then.

Bumblebees keeping warm inside a courgette flower

I took the photograph above in September last year. It had already started to get colder in the mornings and every courgette flower I had was full of insects. Some would even try to push their way inside the half opened flowers. I imagine the large size of the flower gave them shelter, protection and also food.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Insect orders free ebook

Happy New Year to you all.

Well I'm getting the hang of the ebooks, and number 2 is up and ready to be downloaded from the main page of the invertebrate site. It is Insect orders and lists the characteristics of each order along with either a photograph or drawing of a typical representative of the order.

The password to open the book is

insects rule

and it has to be entered twice - I don't know why, but there it is.

I have a few more ideas for fitire ebooks, but if there are any requests, just let me know.